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Modric scores early penalty to give Croatia 1-0 win over Austria at Euro 2008

Modric scores early penalty to give Croatia 1-0 win over Austria at Euro 2008

Croatia's players were so dispirited by their 1-0 win over co-host Austria at the European Championship that coach Slaven Bilic opted against blasting them.
Instead, he put on some music.
"When I went into our changing room, I could that our players were not entirely satisfied," Bilic said Sunday. "But then I turned on the cassette player and told them to sing _ after all we won the game. Of course, we will analyze the outcome of each match.
"Some of our players were overwhelmed playing in such a big match. In the first 35 minutes, we played excellently. Of course, the early goal contributed to that. Then our opponent starting exerting pressure on us, mainly in the second half. But I'm sure this is not down to our stamina."
It took Luka Modric's fourth-minute penalty _ awarded after Ivica Olic was fouled by Rene Aufhauser _ and a man-of-the-match performance from goalkeeper Stipe Pletikosa to give Croatia victory in its opening Group B match at the Ernst Happel Stadium.
Having been completely overrun in the first half, Austria dominated after the interval to deserve at least a point from the match.
Austria coach Josef Hickersberger didn't want to criticize Dutch referee Pieter Vink for the spot kick, given after Olic had linked up on the left flank with Modric from a throw-in and induced Aufhauser to commit a rash tackle. With goalkeeper Juergen Macho diving to his right, Modric sent the ball low and into the middle of the net from the penalty spot.
"If a referee after four minutes gives a penalty in the opening match of the tournament for the host, he must be 100 percent sure, and I trust he wasn't wrong," Hickersberger said.
Modric's goal initially lifted Croatia and Austria struggled to contain the deft interplay in central midfield between Modric and captain Niko Kovac, with Darijo Srna down the right flank the main recipient of their wide passes.
"After four minutes, we conceded a goal and we took some time to recover," Hickersberger said. "For the first 30 minutes, the team wasn't playing well, we were nervous. But after that, we followed our tactical plan and we did it well. We even dominated the second half."
Srna tormented Austria's three-man defense once Modric, in particular, had threaded the ball through the opposing five-man midfield. Olic also caused problems up front, drifting across the field to stretch the defense.
The second half was the exact opposite of the first.
Austria continuously outflanked Croatia down each wing as the game became more and more stretched with the host team appearing to possess the greater stamina, while Croatia was reduced to eking out the odd chance.
"It was a very difficult match for us, especially in the second half," Pletikosa said. "But the good start is always very important at these tournaments."
Modric had a chance when he stole the ball from an unsuspecting defender and dribbled into the box, but Emanuel Pogatetz was able to head the deft chip away and the ball was soon traveling upfield into Croatia's half.
Responding to the partisan roars of the crowd, Austria kept sending in crosses and Pletikosa didn't look totally comfortable dealing with them as Ivica Vastic and Roman Kienast came on for Austria. Umit Korkmaz had a long-range attempt in the 86th but Pletikosa palmed the ball away, and with it Austria's chances.
The Croatian team looked relieved more than elated at the final whistle. So, it must have been a particularly uplifting musical act that Bilic put on.
"It was from one of the players and it was a Croatian rock band called Thompson," Bilic said. "I don't believe you would know them."
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Lineups:
Austria: Juergen Macho, Joachim Standfest, Martin Stranzl, Emanuel Pogatetz, Rene Aufhauser, Roland Linz (Roman Kienast, 73), Andreas Ivanschitz, Ronald Gercaliu (Umit Korkmaz, 69), Sebastian Proedl, Juergen Saemuel (Ivica Vastic, 61), Martin Harnik.
Croatia: Stipe Pletikosa, Danijel Pranjic, Josip Simunic, Robert Kovac, Vedran Corluka, Niko Kovac, Darijo Srna, Luka Modric, Ivica Olic (Ognjen Vukojevic, 89), Niko Kranjkar (Dario Knezevic, 62), Mladen Petric (Igor Budan, 72).


Updated : 2021-05-09 14:02 GMT+08:00